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How to Reduce Electricity Use for Kettles

Updated on November 10, 2012

In the UK, a nation famously addicted to tea drinking, the kettle is a significant consumer of energy. Electric jug kettles - rare in most of the world - consume more than four billion kilowatt hours of electricity in Britain each year, according to the Market Transformation Programme. That compares to 115 billion kilowatt hours for all domestic electricity use. The impact of electric kettles is even greater than these simple figures suggest, too, as they're often switched on across the country at similar times, creating spikes in electricity demand.

The most obvious way to reduce the ecological impact of your tea or coffee is to only boil what you need. As kettles have become more power­ful, people have grown less careful about this, as the extra water in the kettle doesn't cause such a long delay. The simple solution is to measure the cold water into the kettle with a cup.

There is, however, another easy way to reduce the carbon footprint of your hot drinks, assuming you have a gas cooker: switch from an electric jug kettle to a stove-top version. The energy used to boil the water will be slightly higher, as some heat escapes around the edge of the kettle, but the emissions and cost will typically be significantly reduced, due to the fact that electricity is so much more polluting and expensive than gas. As a bonus, because a traditional stove-top kettle will whistle when it's ready, you're less likely to forget that you've boiled it and end up reheating the same water half an hour later.

If, on the other hand, you have an electric cooker, then it makes much more sense to stick with an electric jug kettle, since the hob will use far more energy to do the same job. Even better, consider trading in your jug kettle for a specialist energy-saving model. These include:

The Quick Cup is a dispenser that filters and heats water on demand, so you never need to worry about boiling too much. The device heats each cup's worth of water in just three seconds, and the manufacturer claims energy savings of up to 65%. The down side is that part of these savings are achieved by heating the water to only 85°C, which is good for coffee and hot chocolate, but not ideal for tea.

With the ECO Kettle, you can fill the main water chamber to the brim without feeling bad. When you want a hot drink, simply specify a number of cups - from one to eight - and the kettle will only heat exactly the required volume of water.

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